Embargo 21.9.1992 at 17.00 hours New York time
I wish to begin by congratulating you on your election to the high office of the President of the General Assembly. You can rest assured that the Delegation of Finland will render you its full support in your challenging task.
On behalf of my Government I also wish to extend a warm welcome to the thirteen new members amongst us. Their participation in the work of the United Nations will further strengthen the Organization.
Since the beginning of this year, the United Nations has had a new Secretary-General. Faced with many difficult challenges, Dr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali has already shown, in word and in deed, that he is firmly in charge. We wish him all success in his work.
The United Nations Charter was drafted under dramatic circumstances during the final stages of the Second World War. After the two world wars, the United Nations was given the responsibility for maintaining peace and security for future generations. Now, decades later, the Organization also faces a multitude of other major challenges, those of development, protection of the environment and promotion of democracy and human rights. Courageous and visionary leadership is now called for to create a new United Nations for a new international era.
The Security Council demonstrated such leadership in its historic Summit Meeting held in January. After decades of cold war, the Summit set new priorities for the United Nations in the promotion of peace and security worldwide and provided guidelines for a more active United Nations involvement in the maintenance of peace.
In response to the initiative taken by the Security Council Summit the Secretary-General has submitted an excellent report under the title 'An Agenda for Peace'. In it he has innovatively addressed the question how the full potential of the United Nations could be most effectively used in the service of peace and international security. The report is a comprehensive effort of the Secretary-General to relate preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping as well as peace-building to the changing political and security requirements of the world today.
I am especially pleased to note that the Secretary-General's thinking and many of his recommendations are well in line with what Finland, often together with the other Nordic countries, has herself long advocated.
As expressed so clearly in the Secretary-General's report, it is not sufficient that the United Nations should succeed in putting an end to conflicts. The best way to deal with conflicts is their prevention. It is a complicated but vital task, where the capacity of the United Nations should be considerably strengthened. Different methods could come into question depending on the specific circumstances of each case. But the necessary basis for any prevention is continuous information gathering and monitoring exercised both by the Secretary-General and the Security Council. Early deployment of monitors or peace-keepers should be considered whenever necessary for effective prevention.
May I add that we are also grateful to the Secretary-General for the innovative treatment of post-conflict, comprehensive peace-building in his report.
When the capacity of the United Nations to keep peace and prevent conflicts has been stretched to its limit, it is natural that other means be taken under consideration. Here, regional organizations and agencies can play a significant role. The Secretary-General's repeated calls for closer co-operation and co-ordination between the United Nations and regional organizations are well-founded.
At its Helsinki Summit in July, the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe responded constructively. The CSCE has strengthened its capacity in conclict management and peace-keeping.
We also support the Secretary-General's idea of periodic consultations between the United Nations and regional arrangements on confidence-building measures.
The tragic situation in the former Yugoslavia shows clearly how a complex problem requires an innovative approach. Under the joint leadership of the United Nations and the European Community, the International Conference, with its six working groups, is seeking solutions to the multitude of political, ethnic, humanitarian and other problems in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. Also the CSCE is actively engaged in supporting the settlement of the conflict.
In this context let me say that Finland supports the Security Council recommendation to the General Assembly that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia should apply for membership in the United Nations and should not participate in the work of the General Assembly in the meantime.
While regional organizations should play a greater role in dealing with security threats in their respective regions, the United Nations, through its Security Council, retains, of course, its unique and primary role and special instruments in maintaining international peace and security.
The Secretary-General reminds us of the most potent instrument available to the Security Council, Article 42 of the Charter. We agree with him that the last-resort option of taking military action is essential to the credibility of the United Nations as a guarantor of international security. While not underestimating the problems involved, we believe that the Security Council and all Members of the Organization should seriously consider the proposals of the Secretary-General concerning peace-enforcement units as well as the negotiation of agreements in accordance with Article 43 of the Charter.
Proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction constitutes a major threat to international peace and security. International norms of non-proliferation should be strengthened through universal and credible adherence to them.
Finland welcomes the recently concluded Chemical Weapons Convention. It is a vital and long-awaited part of the international non-proliferation regime and should attract as many original signatories as possible. Finland, for her part, will be among the first states to sign and ratify the Convention.
Unrestrained accumulation of conventional arms can lead to regional instability. It is therefore essential that especially the major arms-exporting countries exercise restraint individually and collectively. Full reporting of all relevant transfers to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms is also necessary.
The Security Council Summit represented a firm recommitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. The Secretary-General, for his part, has seized the momentum and turned this new commitment into a programme for concrete action. In the promotion of peace and security, this is, indeed, a beginning of a new era in the history of the United Nations.
On the same positive note, I should like to turn to another summit, the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro. Alongside the task of maintaining peace and security, a new equally courageous and visionary leadership is called for on sustainable development. In Rio, a remarkable number of Heads of State and Government responded to this call and drew guidelines for worldwide sustainable development. Although all our expectations could not be fulfilled, the Earth Summit showed that the United Nations and the international community can achieve remarkable results when minds meet.
Yet, Rio was only a beginning of a long process towards sustainable development. In this process, a fundamental change is needed first and foremost in attitudes - a change in our own life-styles. And we need a strong political will to direct this change. A sustainable future can be brought about only by putting the treaties agreed upon in Rio into force and by translating the principles of the declaration and Agenda 21 into action. In this the Commission on Sustainable Development will have an essential role to play.
The Conventions signed in Rio are just an initial core for a comprehensive legal framework, which should guide mankind in the right direction. What we do need is a full set of internationally binding agreements, which redirects production and consumption patterns in each and every country. We also need effective conventions covering natural resources. Here, instruments on desertification and sustainable forestry are the most urgent ones.
The future of mankind requires substainable development, management and conservation of forests - of all types of forests everywhere. Forests have both an important national and global dimension. Forests are a valuable national resource which must be utilized for the benefit of the local population. Sustainable forestry is also economically beneficial. While the sovereignty of nations over their forest resources should be respected, this sovereignty should not be misused.
Finland, for her part, is prepared to participate actively in launching the negotiations on the global forest convention on the basis of the forest principles agreed upon in Rio. Here, we have to build a better understanding on the need for such an international instrument. We also have to build mutual confidence founded on the unique role for forests in the global eco-system.
To implement what was agreed in Rio is a tall order for any country and particularly for developing countries. Many of them will need the assistance of the international community and the United Nations. New and additional resources required by developing countries must be provided in a timely manner. This is a heavy task for the donor community as it has to shoulder the responsibility of assisting also the new democracies in transition.
The results of the Earth Summit do indeed underline the unique and indispensable role of the United Nations in promoting development. They will have a crucial impact on the entire economic and social sector of the United Nations and on the work of the Economic and Social Council. Development deserves the same priority and attention as peace and security.
Development is not only economic and social progress, it is also promotion of democracy and human rights. No longer do questions of violations of human rights belong exclusively to the sovereign domain of states. On the contrary, respect for human rights and democracy is an integral part of international relations. It is, therefore, one of the main responsibilities of the United Nations to see to it that they are respected worldwide.
ECOSOC is the principal organ of the United Nations for development. It is important and urgent that ECOSOC be strengthened so that it can gain the true leadership role for sustainable development and promotion of human rights and democracy.
The demands put on the United Nations today are unprecedented. New challenges have to be met - and financed. Finland shares the Secretary-General's concerns regarding the Organization's ability to function in the present financial crisis. We are, therefore, willing to consider constructively any of his proposals.
Finland is particularly anxious to see the General Assembly take the first step recommended by the Secretary-General: the establishment of a peace-keeping reserve fund to meet initial expenses of peace-keeping operations pending receipt of assessed contributions. The Nordic countries have long advocated this step. With the recent expansion of operations, the need for such a fund is acute.
It is not in keeping with the honour, interests or legal obligations of the Member States for the United Nations to exist in its present mendicancy, to use the words of the Secretary-General. For members of any club, paying dues is a duty, not an option. While exceptional measures may be needed to guarantee the uninterrupted functioning of the United Nations in the present crisis, the overall funding of the Organization must be built on the collective responsibility of the entire membership. We have a common interest to invest in improved security and development towards a more prosperous and democratic world.
The United Nations Charter remains valid today as regards the maintenance of international peace and security and the promotion of international cooperation in the economic, social and human rights sectors. In facing the new challenges, especially in the promotion of sustainable development and democracy, the primary issue is how can we best build on the Charter and even amend it, where necessary.
As it approaches the end of the second millennium, humanity is faced with formidable challenges. Meeting them will not be easy, I have no illusions about that. Yet, now the United Nations has a better chance than ever to use its full potential and show leadership for the sake of a better future.
Thank you, Mr. President.